Is this true at all? [GenSan TV Patrol reporter eats crow]
On the eve following a training on Covering the 2007 Elections organized by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, I encountered this story from the Mindanao Media Forum loop.
Is this really true? What an affront to press freedom, if so. Period.
CITY–A lady reporter of ABS-CBN’s local TV Patrol who broke
the story on the no hero’s welcome for People’s Champion Manny Pacquiao by local officials was made to suffer the ultimate humiliation a network person could
possibly go through: retract her story on air.
“I would just like to apologize for my story on the no hero’s welcome for Manny Pacquiao,” Beverly Anne Santos, without batting an eyelash,got right to the point.
In the same breath, she added: “It was all a misunderstanding. I’m really sorry.”
It was learned that Anne Gacayan, ABS-CBN station manager, was called down to City Hall with the videotapes of Wednesday’ s newscast.In it, Santos reported Acharon as saying that the city would no longer roll out the red carpet for Pacquiao upon his return from his April 14 fight with Mexican Jorge Solis in the .
She also reported Acharon as further saying that since Pacquiao was no longer considered a sports icon but already a politician, there was no need for the local government to give him a hero’s welcome as it had done for him in the past.
The story was picked up by the national papers, which gave the story the prominence usually given to a public figure like Pacquiao, who is seeking a congressional seat in the First District of SouthCotabato under the administration ticket.
He is up against reelectionist Congresswoman Darlene Antonino-Custodio, Acharon’s ally in the opposition, who was at the forefront of the impeachment move against
President Arroyo last year.
Acharon was quick to deny the story and had his chief of civilian security unit, Inspector Redempto Acharon, summon Gacayan and her staff for the viewing of the tapes and to make the necessary corrections.
“I challenge the TV network to view for public consumption the entire tape
recorded program to prove that I never issued such statements,” Acharon said at a
hastily called press conference on Thursday, at which he also read Santos’ text
message stating, “Ok na Mayor. Kinorek ko na.”
The morning the story landed on the pages of the national papers, local TV Patrol was ready with the
retraction for its six o’clock news. Santos, the 22-year-old granddaughter of Gen.
Paulino Santos the city was named after, would later come out eating crow on her microphone.
Her colleagues believed that the local government, which has a multi-million public relations
account with ABS-CBN, forced the network into making the retraction after the story touched off a public outcry.
This is a blatant asssault on press freedom and a sad commentary on the
state of crass commercialism pervading our networks,” said John Paul Jubelag,
president of the Publishers Association of General Santos City and South Cotabato (PAGES).
A progressive youth organization also joined in the condemnation.
“Anne’s retraction was uncalled for. The management should have stood by her,
the story having been rectified anyway. So, why subject her to such humiliation? This is deplorable, a clear case of curtailment of press freedom,” said Rhean Mantilla, head of the
Kabataan Party List Socsksargen Chapter.